By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – One aspect of Southeastern Conference athletics that fans at each of its member institutions take great pride in are the unique and long-lasting traditions that the schools have maintained for more than a century.
Missouri is thought to be the creator of one of the greatest traditions in college football and one that is extremely prevalent on campuses across the SEC footprint.
Legend has it that the tradition of Homecoming games got its start at the University of Missouri in 1911. Chester Brewer, Missouri’s Director of Athletics at the time, wanted to add some additional fanfare surrounding the Tigers’ game with Kansas that year because it was being played on a college campus for the first time in its series history.
He reached out to the school’s alumni and former football players with the charge of “Coming Home” for the game. A then-record crowd of 9,000 fans were on hand for the game, which ended in a tie.
Though the University of Illinois was thought to have staged a similar celebration in 1910, Missouri was the first to hold a homecoming football game.
Entering the 2011 season, the Tigers held a 57-37-5 all-time record in homecoming games.
OTHER MISSOURI TRADITIONS
Truman The Tiger
The nickname "Tigers," given to Mizzou's athletic teams, traces its origin to the Civil War period. At that time, plundering guerilla bands habitually raided small towns, and Columbia people constantly feared an attack. Such organizations as temporary "home guards" and vigilance companies banded together to fight off any possible forays.
The town's preparedness discouraged any guerilla activity and the protecting organization began to disband in 1854. However, it was rumored that a guerilla band, led by the notorious Bill Anderson, intended to sack the town. Quickly organized was an armed guard of Columbia citizens, who built a blockhouse and fortified the old courthouse in the center of town. This company was called "The Missouri Tigers."
The marauders never came. The reputation of the intrepid "Tigers" presumably traveled abroad, and Anderson's gang detoured around Columbia.
Soon after Missouri's first football team was organized in 1890, the athletic committee adopted the nickname "Tiger" in official recognition of those Civil War defenders.Their spirit is now embodied in the MU mascot - "Truman the Tiger." The Tiger was named Truman in 1984 because of a contest held by the cheerleaders. Previously MU had two mascots, a male and a female, but neither had an identity.
This contest was held on campus, over a period of a few weeks, to develop a name for the Tiger mascot. The winner, a student, submitted the name Truman (after Missouri-bred President of the United States Harry S Truman). The name stuck and has been popular ever since.
In 1986, the Tiger mascot design caricature, image, material, and color was in need of an upgrade. Jack Lengyel, Dick Tamburo, and Joe Castiglione sought a way to improve the overall personality of our mascot, Truman.
A design was submitted to the manufacturer for production. (Some financial help was provided by local restuaranteur Dick Walls.) The new mascot made its first appearance at the Missouri-Utah State football game in 1986.
Official Mizzou Ring
Gaining in popularity, the Official Mizzou Ring is a symbol of accomplishment at the university. Upon completion of 60 hours of study, students are eligible to receive their rings in an annual ceremony.
The Homecoming tradition was started at Mizzou in 1911, when the MU football coach and Director of Athletics, Chester Brewer, invited alumni to “come home” to Columbia for the annual football game against the University of Kansas.
Mizzou still boasts the largest student-run Homecoming in the nation. The annual events include a parade, blood drive, talent competition, tailgate, and many more.
The traditional symbol of the University of Missouri is the row of six Ionic columns. The Columns once supported the portico of Academic Hall, the first building erected on campus. Academic Hall was built between 1840 and 1843 from plans drawn by A. Stephen Hills, designer of the Missouri State Capitol.
It consisted of a domed central section of three stories with two wings and housed both educational and administrative facilities. Brick for the building was fired on campus. Limestone for the Columns was obtained from the nearby Hinkson Creek Valley and was hauled to the building by ox-drawn carts.
On Jan. 9, 1892, Academic Hall was destroyed by fire and the Columns were all that remained. In August 1893 the Board of Curators voted to remove the Columns, considering them not only unsafe but unsightly. However, supporters of the Columns rallied to their defense, and after inspection showed the foundations were safe, the Board voted to retain them in December 1893. Now the Columns stand as a beloved part of MU's campus.